When Cadet Master Corporal Makayla Silvey takes aim at a target her body is still as a statue, but her mind is racing.
As soon as she takes out her Daisy air rifle and lies on her stomach to take the perfect shot, dozens of questions cycle through her mind. Is her cheek on the stock of the rifle? Is her elbow on the right place on the mat? Is her hand in the right place? Is she squeezing the trigger just right? Is she breathing enough?
Once she’s checked off all the boxes in her head, Silvey closes her eyes and takes in a deep breathe. Then she opens her eyes, breathes out and shoots the .177 calibre bb gun. It’s a technique that has become clockwork for the 16-year-old Fernwood marksman.
Most recently, Silvey, a cadet with the 2136 Royal Canadian Army Cadet Corps in Victoria, and her four teammates, finished fourth at the provincial marksmanship competition in Vernon earlier this month that included relays of standing and prone (shooting on one’s stomach) shooting.
It’s a competition Silvey was proud to take part in.
“I think we did really good because we barely practiced with standing shooting,” she said.
Silvey’s love for shooting began a few years after she joined cadets in 2014. After taking a trip to the Bay Street Armoury with her grandfather, she became obssessed with the old weapons and uniforms from WWI up to the war in Afghanistan that were on display. Shortly after she joined cadets and it was there, she learned about the parts of a rifle and how to shoot, and quickly fell in love with the sport.
Every practice she has, every competition she competes in, she sees as a way to better her skills.
“I enjoy improving myself. It’s all about stamina. When you first go out there’s lots to think about, it’s really all about mentality,” Silvey said, adding some days she’ll hit the target, other days she won’t, but it’s about how you get back into the right mindset and focus on the target that makes the difference.
“You just get better each time and that’s really great … I just focus on getting the perfect shot every time.”
Silvey practices three times a week at the North Saanich Rod and Gun Club and the Bay Street Armoury. This year, she’s preparing for another challenge — training for the Royal Canadian Army Cadet National Rifle Team, which comes with a six-week training program in Ontario. All of that training could potentially lead to a training program in England as well.